Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Plot: “When a single mom and her two kids arrive in a small town, they discover their connection to the original Ghostbusters and the secret legacy their grandfather left behind.” 

Review: I did not approach Ghostbusters: Afterlife as an unbiased critic. I must admit that before we get started. Born in 1983, a year before the theatrical release of the original Ghostbusters film, I would soon find myself obsessed with those who defended Manhattan from a giant marshmallow. A deep child-like love with this movie morphed into a childhood dominated by toys, the animated series, and the sequel, Ghostbusters II. I even spent a couple of Halloweens dressed as a Ghostbuster dawning my brown jumpsuit, proton pack, and trap. In these unlikely heroes, this nerdy kid with glasses and an endless supply of sarcastic jokes found people to admire.  

In 2016, they relaunched this franchise with an all-female cast. Those who loathe anything smelling of feminism hated it. I found it to be a hilarious and worthy successor. I left the theater filled with a simple appreciation. Thank you for not running my childhood.  

Walking into Ghostbusters: Afterlife, I whispered the same prayer. Please do not ruin my childhood. Before the theater grew dark, I thought, please advance the story, introduce new characters, serve up a buffet of nostalgia, but please do not ruin this thing I hold dear.  

With the lights lowered, I readied myself for disappointment, which is a terrible way to approach a movie. Instantly, this film opens with a level of intrigue that made me miss the great science fiction movies of the 80s. It is in this opening scene we will spend the rest of the film unpacking. This setting will draw a single mother, Callie played by Carrie Coon, and her two children, Trevor played by Finn Wolfhard and Phoebe, played by Mckenna Grace, to Oklahoma.    

As they explore the seemingly abandoned farm, waves of nostalgia arrive like a tsunami. A PKE Meter and a proton pack both made me smile, but when ECTO-1 is discovered in a barn, I was hooked. With these tools comes the realization that our family is not alone, and lessons are being taught beyond the grave. In these moments, I found myself fully invested. When we learn our family is not alone inside the house and lessons beyond the grave are being taught, I found myself fully invested.  

This film is not without its faults, though. It leans a bit too heavily on nostalgia; this becomes abundantly true in its last third. It suffers from this problem I have with a lot of sci-fi, where complex problems or obscure bits of knowledge are easily solved or known to move the story forward quickly. With this understood, this is a family movie about a family dealing with some unique challenges. It is also a comedy; a through line that ties everything in this franchise together.  

As our characters embarked on the final showdown and some huge reveals made their way to the screen, I knew this film had accomplished its goal. It did not ruin my childhood. Rating it 4 out of 5 stars is probably a bit too generous, but I told you I am biased. If you want the truth, find a critic who hated their childhood. This one was a lucky kid. 


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